One area of internet marketing that’s not discussed that often is the need to closely track your competition. There’s a good chance that they are tracking your moves. It’s quite common for businesses to “borrow” ad campaigns and other things from other businesses. Some marketers like to think they are too honest or above board to spy on their competitors. The truth is, though, that this is an unavoidable aspect of marketing. For the most part, “spying” just means studying your competition’s business practices and there’s nothing unethical about this. Both online and offline businesses do this on a daily basis, and it’s simply taken for granted. So if you want to discover what your competitor’s are doing, keep the following tips in mind.
To save you time, and possibly money, you can pay companies online for their research and information that you are looking for. Tedious research can be avoided by simply using one of these companies to help you. Many websites, like Alexa, have directories with individual listings for the many different industries online. One company, Gartner, specializes in industrial reporting, which might be of use to you depending upon your niche. You might even want to join certain trade groups and associations to get even more information. Even watch out on TV and media sites to pick up advertisements, simple methods like this can allow you to access TV stations in other countries. By combining all of the information from industry trackers and associations, you can put the picture together all by yourself. Use ghost inquiries on all of your competitors and have that person basically blend in as a regular consumer.
What you want to do is apply this strategy to all the processes in your competitor’s various funnels. This gives you a bird’s eye view of their operation. You want to identify areas of weaknesses and strength and then compare that to your business. For example, if you find out that a certain company isn’t very efficient with customer service, you can take advantage of this. In response to this, you would make an extra effort in the customer service department and advertise this in your promotions.
One of your best resources for spying on other businesses is LinkedIn, as companies constantly broadcast information on there. You should be a member, and have a profile of your own on this site. Smart companies will not reveal too much in their updates. Yet, there’s also the fact that businesses want their potential customers and clients to know all about them. Many businesses are more focused on gaining publicity than on hiding their secrets. You can sign up and receive updates from anyone on LinkedIn who makes them public, and this might include many of your competitors.
Intelligence gathering is an activity engaged in by businesses of all sizes and varieties. At least a few of your competitors are probably watching you. In some cases, they won’t only get ideas from you, but they will outright steal your product, idea or business model. So then it becomes a question of what you will do for your own business. Of course this will add another demand on your time, but this is relatively high value activity. You never want to be caught by surprise by some action taken by your competition.
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